Jaynie Roberts was a homeschooling mother in Clark County and while staying busy with that, she was writing an original play. The only problem: she needed somewhere to perform it.
Magenta Theater was birthed out of Roberts’ desire to put her creative ideas on paper while simultaneously giving her kids an arts outlet for their education. She and her husband co-founded the organization, which began in 2002, and now they offer five mainstage productions a year with three-week show runs in addition to an improv troupe called MIT (Magenta Improv Theater) that offers seven to eight shows a year with offsite gigs. They also offer academy classes for adults, Black Chair Projects, which are staged readings of plays with minimal rehearsal and only one performance, as well as a Rock Choir for community participants.
The organization is run by volunteers, but they do provide directors and some technical positions a small stipend to help offset expenses, and they recently contracted an administrative assistant. Since the organization began, volunteer numbers have continued to increase each year, and now, they have approximately 250 people that work with the theater.
Magenta Theater is housed in their own facility in downtown Vancouver in the Arts District.
“We have a long-term lease, and have done all the tenant improvements necessary to be a fully functioning arts center,” Roberts said. ”We also host various artists for them to display their work on our lobby walls. We are becoming more and more active with rentals also. Recent renters have included the Portland Opera, Washington Dance Creative, ROAR LLC, and we have Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Morgan reserved for June.”
While the rental portion of the organization has been doable, Roberts shares that they are not pursuing more of these and wish to develop wider and deeper relationships with other businesses in the area, especially those downtown. The organization was recently awarded a grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, which enabled them to install a new LED lighting system as well as an upgraded sound system and new seating.
Roberts goes on to explain that she carefully selects season offerings.
“(I) don’t try to be too edgy with our productions,” she said. “We market ourselves as family friendly, but that does not mean we steer away from controversial topics. We just ‘know’ when to advise patrons that certain shows might not be suitable for youngsters.”
Magenta Theater is unique in that it’s focused on community.
“We want every volunteer to feel as though they are part of the family,” Roberts said. ”We want every audience member to feel as though they were treated to an experience that they want to tell their friends about.”
Roberts said she looks forward to what the future holds for Magenta Theater and explains that they are always looking for more volunteers.
“We attack each project as if it was a professional production,” she said. “Even though our patrons are paying Vancouver-area prices for tickets, we still believe they deserve a high-quality production.”